Advent comes from the Latin. It means “coming” and is the time of waiting and preparation before Christmas that helps us focus on the three comings of Christ.
The first coming of Christ is what the baby and the manger are all about. God became flesh and bone inside Mary’s womb and was born through the normal birthing process of pain and desperation. He walked among men as one of us. He ate our food, laughed at our jokes, and loved us in our brokenness.
Christ’s death on a cross along with his burial and resurrection secured forgiveness of wrong in our lives and ensured a future with him for those who believe that he actually did these things.
The second coming of Christ that Advent calls us to embrace is Christ coming to live within us. The One who walked among us has now come to live within those who call on his name. Not only is he living within us, but he is constantly talking, teaching, and leading us.
Jesus is the Great Communicator. In the Old Testament, Christ was known as The Word (see Genesis 1:1). John tells us that The Word then became flesh in the form of a baby and dwelt among us as a man (See John 1:14). He lives within those of us who have asked him to take up residence in our lives. Someday in the future Jesus will return and again walk among us physically as The Word (see Revelation 19:13). If Christ lives in you, what is he, The Word, talking to you about? What is he teaching you and where is he leading you?
The third coming that Advent points us to is the future coming of Christ again to planet earth as our King. Someday soon his feet will land on the Mount of Olives and he will reign over the world he created. Jesus told us to be alert and watchful concerning this coming and to prepare for it.
Advent gives us time to examine our lives and prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord. It offers us the joy of expectancy and the responsibility of spreading the word that Christ has come and will come again. The early church was always mindful that their mission was on a timetable. This knowledge motivated them to communicate the good news, or gospel, throughout the known world in a relatively short amount of time.
Three comings of Christ—past, present, and future—all are represented in Advent. As Joan Chittister says in The Liturgical Year, “The great spiritual question the season poses for each of us is, which coming are you and I waiting for now? At this moment of our lives, at this present stage of our spiritual development, what we’re waiting for surely determines how we will wait for it.”
Personally, I’m waiting for the future coming of Christ at this point in my life. How I am waiting involves examining myself, preparing my heart for his return, and encouraging others to do the same. Time is short—before I go or before he comes—I plan to make my life count!
Which coming are you waiting for this Advent season and how are you waiting for it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
In Him together, Susan Gaddis